No. 9 UC Irvine Rallies To Upset No. 3 Long Beach State, 3-2


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Irvine, Calif. - No. 9 UC Irvine rallied from a two game deficit to upset No. 3 Long Beach State, 3-2 (22-30, 22-30, 30-26, 30-27, 15-12) at the Bren Events Center Thursday.

The Anteaters win their first five-gamer (1-4) of the year and improve to 12-12 overall and 8-9 in the MPSF. Long Beach State goes to 19-4 and 14-3 in league play. Three of Long Beach's four losses this year have come in five games.

Junior opposite Jon Steller led UCI with 26 kills, hitting .500 for the match (26-5-42). Freshman outside hitter Cory Yoder totaled 14 kills and four blocks, while Taylor Wilson came off the bench to add seven kills and 10 digs. Libero Brent Asuka tallied 11 digs, while middle blocker Kevin Wynne had a match-high five block assists. Senior middle blocker Aaron Harrell recorded five kills and four blocks. Setter Anthony Spittle sparked UCI in the final three games with 30 set assists.

Long Beach State was paced by Paul Lotman with 27 kills, 11 digs and four service aces. Dean Bittner recorded 26 kills followed by Josh Riley with 11 kills and Dan Alexander with 10 kills. Alexander also had a team-high four blocks. Libero Dustin Watten had a match-high 13 digs.

In game one, Long Beach State jumped out to a 10-4 lead on the strength of its serving which included three aces. The Forty-Niners went on to a 30-22 win behind Dean Bittner's eight kills.

Long Beach led 7-6 in game two before going on a 3-1 run to extend the lead to 10-7. UCI would pull within 23-21 on a Jordan DuFault kill but another Bittner kill was followed by an Anteater attack error to give LBSU the 25-21 cushion. The Anteaters would get no closer than three the rest of the way as Long Beach took the second game 30-22 with the Forty-Niners ending the game with three consecutive blocks.

UCI led 16-13 in game three before Long Beach rallied on a 6-3 spurt to knot the score at 19-19. UCI used a Forty-Niner service and attack error followed by a Cory Yoder kill to go up 24-21. UCI would go on to win the game 30-26. Long Beach would record seven service errors in the set.

Game four saw the teams tied at 12-12 before UCI went on a 6-2 run to take a 18-14 lead. Long Beach would score three unanswered, the last a Paul Lotman service ace, to narrow the UCI advantage to 25-23 but Lotman would serve into the net on the next possession to end the Forty-Niner run. UCI would win 30-27 to force a fifth game.

A kill by Lotman gave Long Beach a 6-4 lead in game five but a pair of Yoder kills helped UCI take back the lead at 8-7. The Anteaters never trailed again with Yoder putting away the match winner, 15-12.

The win increases UCI's lead in the Black & Blue Rivalry Series presented by Duke's of Huntington Beach to 21-14.

UCI will travel to UC San Diego Saturday (Mar. 29) for a 7:00 p.m. first serve.

Article courtesy of UC Irvine athletics.

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